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2 kinds of private social networks

Posted on June 9th, 2011 by TimClaes

Private social networks – To be or not to be?


Social media is a powerful way to communicate with your peers, your friends, your customers… But how do you determine who to follow on twitter? Or how do you decide with whom to connect on facebook? And what about the linked in groups, which are the interesting ones? So basically where will you find the people you are truely looking for and how will you limit the overflow of incoming information.

And that is where the private social networks come in. In my opinion you actually have 2 kinds of possible private social networks.

1. An organization-wide private social network


Within 1 organization you set-up a social network, making use of tools like “Yammer” for instance, giving people within your organization the possibility to connect and to follow each other. In many occasions however this results into a platform for union talk, internal complaints and useless information. However if some ground rules are set up right from the start, it can be very helpful in your organization. I added 7 tips for you which I found on the web myself and have proven for me to be very useful in the field.

private social networks

 Tip #1: Set standards for Yammer profiles. Require real pictures of real people and insist on employees using their real names. Don’t do, as some people do, name your profile “Wonder Man.”

Tip #2: Create rules for messages on the site, the most obvious of which is: Company business only please. I’ll go further—practice Refrigerator Journalism by posting tips and information that is so helpful to colleagues, so practical and immediately useful, that in the pre-online days they would have tacked it to their refrigerators.

Tip #3: Yammer allows groups. Define what constitutes a group or you’ll see rapid proliferation. Within some companies, new groups sprung up under the titles: Editorial, conference division and The Millennial Mafia. 

Tip #4: Make sure you list your skills in your profile, yes, even if you’re a small company. This is huge help for new employees.

Tip #5: Think before you send a message. No one wants to hear about that bar fight last Friday night or your most recent blind date.

Tip #6: Like all social media tools, Yammer allows you to share links to useful articles relevant to your group or to employees companywide. No dancing panda videos from YouTube, please.

Tip #7: It’s OK to post questions—indeed, this may end up being the most efficient way for remote workers to get answers quickly—but remember the Golden Rule of social media: Return the favor by lending your expertise by answering queries from your colleagues.

2. Community private social networks


The key word here is the community. Anything that connects people together through a similar interest. I recently learned for instance that Toyota launches a social network for all toyota owners. You can think of any kind of community building here: politics, associations, big families, lawyers, doctors, patients… you name it and I’m sure you will find it somewhere on the internet. And if you don’t find it, you can build a private social network for free by using tools like “social go” for instance.

private social networks

But what are the chances of survival of these kinds of private social networks? Everything starts with setting up some ground rules as well and strict regulations on the content that can appear on these private social networks. The communities are brought together through their interest or their job, so the content in this private social network should go about that, and nothing else. The more you have the possibility to uniquely identify the persons, the better your chances are that the private social network will work.

I’m curious what the future will bring in this area. I believe we still have some exciting times ahead of us…


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